As promised, here we are in San Diego. I will get to that in a moment but first a word about traveling and how it adds to one’s general knowledge; (just in case you were wondering!) Oberlin College has a wonderful art collection; it is touted as having one of the best college museums in the nation. The museum is currently being renovated and while that is happening they have lent out many of their paintings to other museums including the Met (known affectionately as “my home away from home”). The loaned paintings cover various painters and time periods. Rather than place the Oberlin paintings all together, the Met has placed each painting with other paintings by the same artist or time period. I thought that was a neat way of handling a diverse collection. Last week I went to a gallery talk on the exhibit. I found it amusing that the collection covered many of the same painters I had just enjoyed in Rome and Belgium. There was a Breugel (Flemish artist; we saw his work in Bruge), a Caravaggio (not only did we see many Caravaggio paintings in Rome but they put it next to a painting owned by the Met which had just been returned from the Caravaggio retrospective in Rome which I tried unsuccessfully to get into because you needed to get tickets in advance), an Arpino (whose works we saw in the Borghese Gallery in Rome where I did have an advance ticket!), a painting by Peter Paul Rubens (we went to his studio in Antwerp; remember my description?) and lastly a painting by Michael Swerts (who I never heard of but was born in Brussels and lived most of his life in Rome!) Anyway, I found it funny how much of the Oberlin collection seemed to revolve around our recent adventure in Europe and that now I was familiar with these artists from our trip. There were some more modern paintings in the collection as well.
One more aside before we get to San Diego. Some of you have already heard this tale, so bear with me. The night before we left on our trip I was cutting a bagel and managed to not only cut the bagel but my finger clear through the nail. So much blood, I got light headed. Since we were leaving the next morning, I decided to err on the side of caution and off to the emergency room at Lenox Hill we went. Two hours later I had bacitracin ointment and a band-aid on my finger just like Marty had done at home! I had been so concerned that I would lose the nail. It seems to be healing nicely. I don’t even have a band-aid on it any more but I don’t think I should be putting nail polish on that finger for a while. BTW, I didn’t need a tetanus shot because I had one 5 weeks earlier when I cut a different finger while preparing for the seder!
OK, let’s get to San Diego. We are here because Marty was attending his annual arbitrators’ conference (which has been in Florida for many years and will be at the Fountainbleu next year). Marty was one of the speakers this year. In case you’re wondering how he did: this morning as I was sitting outside (yakking with Joyce on the phone!), one of the arbitrators who I know (and by now I know quite a few of them) passed by me and said: “Your husband was quite a hit this morning.”
The conference is being held at the Del Coronado Hotel which is on Coronado which is a separate little island across the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. It is the place to stay in San Diego. It was opened in 1888, has Victorian turrets, had some of the first electrical lights in existence and has hosted kings, presidents and movie stars. It’s recently been renovated and is a quite nice place to stay. Coronado itself is nice for leisurely strolling and has some interesting restaurants including one we ate at called Cafe Loma (because it is on Loma Street). It looks like a little B’nB. The food was delicious. More on the food later.
We didn’t have a lot of time for sightseeing but I did manage to cram some in. We arrived on Monday evening and the conference started on Wednesday so we had all day Tuesday. The conference ended mid-day today so we also had this afternoon. We actually had Thursday afternoon as well (which the conference allots for golf and tennis!) but opted to stay at the pool that day. The weather has been very strange; much cooler than normal; (cooler than it’s been in NY!) but then in between it would get hot.
We spent a huge chunk of time on Tuesday at Balboa Park. This is a fascinating park smack in the middle of San Diego. Virtually all of the city’s museums are there. We went to 2 of them–San Diego Museum of the Living Artist (paintings by living artists-duh!; we weren’t overly impressed) and the Museum of Photographic Arts (I was disappointed because while they own a huge collection of photos by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz, Margaret Bourke-White, etc, very few of them were on display.) The park also contains various gardens including a rose garden, a lily pond and a cactus garden (Ken and Rona: not as extensive as the one we saw in Arizona), theatres and fountains. What I found of most interest, however, was what they called the Spanish Village Art Centre. This consisted of a area with 37 studios and 200 artists who were not only selling their wares (including paintings, glass ware, jewelry, pottery, etc.) but were actually working on their crafts as they sat there. It was fun to watch and interact with the artists and yes, I did not leave empty handed. In fact, I got a piece of glass, a painting and a bracelet!
From there we drove to the Cabrillo National Monument which sits at the end of Point Loma, a slice of land jutting into the Pacific just southeast of downtown San Diego. There’s a park there (guess it was park day!) and a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who landed in San Diego in 1542. Primary reason for visiting is for the view of San Diego and the Pacific.
Then we drove north to La Jolla, the place to live in the San Diego area (and where we stayed 23 years ago when we visited San Diego with our 10 year old!) La Jolla has lots of lovely places to wander and terrific restaurants (more on that in a moment). On Tuesday afternoon we took in the sea lions who lie on the shore line there. Apparently many of the moms had just given birth and you were asked to please keep your voices down so as not to disturb them.
This afternoon we took a ride to Old Town which is an old (duh!) historic park with houses and shops that date back to the 1800’s. However, they’ve interspersed them with retail stores and restaurants and we found the whole thing to be a little hokey.
In terms of food (always near and dear to our hearts), as always these days one can find good food anywhere if one knows where to look. The two best meals we had were both in La Jolla. I saved the best one for last. We had dinner tonight at Georges at the Cove which serves modern California cuisine. We had a fabulous view of the Pacific as we ate (until it got too dark). The food was delicious. Our appetizer (we had the same thing) was a yellow fin tuna sushi. My main course was California lamb chops. The other restaurant we liked in La Jolla was called Roppongi and served Pacific Rim cuisine; it seemed more like Chinese dim sum to us and was quite good. The one breakfast we had together was on our sightseeing day; we went to a place called Brian’s in the Gaslamp Quarter that was touted as having “the best hot cakes”; NOT. The pancakes weren’t bad BUT would you believe they didn’t have pure maple syrup? As my faithful readers all know, this is a major sin and I did have a trusty little bottle with me to save the day for my husband!!
So, all in all, I would say that San Diego does have things to do and see but I wouldn’t put it high on a list of places one MUST see.
The Habers will be returning to Europe in July and the nextHaber Report will emanate from Budapest followed by Vienna. As always, thanks for traveling with us and I look forward to your comments.